Harness and DevOps:
Where We Help (And Where We Fail)

Some teams are a great fit for Harness. Others, not so much. Here's the breakdown.

By Greg Howard
March 12, 2018

One thing I hope you’ll never hear from anyone at Harness is this piece of vendor baloney: “If you purchase Harness, you’ll be unstoppable in your DevOps journey.”

The team at Harness knows that vendors don’t create a DevOps culture. Rather, DevOps is truly an act of will: it’s genuine desire on the part of an organization to align developers and operations and keep their shared focus on core business objectives.

If you have managed to build a DevOps culture, or at least believe that doing so will help you grow your business, Harness will be a help. A huge, tremendous help.

But the reality is, if you haven’t been hit with the blinding light of DevOps truth, Harness is likely to be shelfware. (That’s right, I said it.) And that’s fine. You shouldn’t buy what you don’t need.

Here’s what we can do, and how we benefit DevOps cultures. And, by the same token, here’s how we fail miserably in teams where no DevOps culture exists.

Transparency across pipelines

One of the unique features of Harness is its ability to act like an x-ray that pierces through every single pipeline across the environment. The approved roles can see which pipelines have been built, when and how they’ve deployed, what failures occurred (and why), and what deployments were successful.

Not everyone is comfortable with that. Some teams are much happier keeping guard over a House of Secrets, hiding all that information within a mountain of arcane scripts. If that’s the culture, Harness won’t compete. And it shouldn’t.

A preference for the small stuff

In some organizations, people want to be accountable for small pieces of the big picture. There are those who live to fiddle with pipelines and build new ones from scratch, each and every time. There are those who like to monitor the success of production releases. There are those who like to oversee the security and secrets of each pipeline.

It’s not that Harness eliminates all those job descriptions–not even close–but it does put all those people in same room, looking at the same data. You can see where the scripts are integrated into the Harness pipeline flow, what secrets were incorporated into the build (and an audit trail that proves it), and a complete view into the success or failure of the deployment.

You can’t use Harness and be hunched over your own computer screen, never talking to your colleague. Again, if the culture facilitates Dev and Ops (and let’s add “Security” to that), Harness will make a tremendous impact. If not, it’ll collect dust.

No vision of amazing stuff to build

Here’s the reality: Harness automates a ton of boring stuff. Custom scripts, pipeline creation, verification and rollbacks–it’s work that has to be done with every release, and it’s not even necessarily easy work (verifications in particular can be migraine-inducing). But it’s not generally what gets people out of bed. It’s a series of tasks that have to be done correctly in order for deployments to happen at a lightning-fast pace.

The best engineers are always looking for a way to automate pieces of their day-to-day lives, enabling them to focus on what they really want to do: build super-cool stuff. The more you automate, the more time you have in your day to perform heroic acts of engineering brilliance. There was a time when Chef recipes were seen as a bold new advancement; now they’re as common as hoodies.

But maybe that’s not the vision. Maybe the culture is simply to focus on the status quo, shipping code the way the team always has: manually shepherding pipelines into production. If that’s the outlook, Harness won’t help.

DevOps for Realz

DevOps is a culture, whereas Harness is a software platform. Generally, we find that our customers are successful when they’ve implemented the first before buying the second. And to be honest, they generally qualify out on the first call if they haven’t implemented that culture.

“What? You mean I actually have to start talking to the guy next to me, collaborating on process and results? I’ll pass.”

For the DevOps ready, though, Harness can augment, support, and enable taking that culture to the next level. Try it for yourself.

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